How Iran exploits fear of its own "hardliners"

Iran always raises the spectre of "hardliners" to frighten ordinary Iranians into compliance with fake "moderates". It does much the same with the outside world which, at least in the person of Barack Obama, appears gullible enough to fall for the ruse. Don't be fooled. The Communists tried this too

Obama's falling for that "moderate" ruse
Potkin Azarmehr
On 11 March 2015 09:30

For the last 36 years, the people of Iran have been given a choice of bad and worse candidates in the so-called elections that are held in the Islamic Republic.

The Guardian council, the unelected body that pre-selects the candidates, will always present the Iranian electorates with some extreme, reactionary candidates who are straight from the dark ages.

But it will also offer one or two slightly more “moderate” candidates who are not quite as extreme and fundamentalist as the others, but nevertheless whose loyalties to the regime have been tried and tested.

The so-called “moderate” candidates, or the “road graders of the regime,” as they are often referred to by those Iranians who boycott the process they view as a “selection” and not an “election”, ultimately manage to convince the bulk of the population that if they do not vote, and thus boycott the elections, they will only serve to bring the "hardliners" to power.

In this way, the rule of clerics in Iran continues and they secure the legitimacy they crave so as to justify their rule to the outside world.

Perhaps the Persian proverb of “better to have fever than to die” best summarises the dilemma described above, which Iranian voters face every time they go to the polling station.

This play on the fear of hardliners is equally skilfully performed with the outside world: a game the ruling clerics in Iran have become so adept at playing that they can even induce the Western media to come up with headlines such as these below:

“Iran hardliners try to undermine the nuclear deal”
“Iran hardliners win if Netanyahu gets his way”
“Tehran hardliners undermine reforms”
“Iran moderates at risk if sanctions are not lifted”


Such good-cop/bad-cop psychological theatrics are not new. Romanian General Ion Mihai Pacepa, the highest ranking defector to the West from the Eastern Bloc during the Cold War, has written several books and articles which described the inner workings of the Communist intelligence services.

In his book, Disinformation, Pacepa describes how the Soviets succeeded in selling Ceausescu (of all people) to gullible Westerners as the champion of the “moderates” by using a very similar methodology.

Pacepa quotes Yuri Andropov, then head of the KGB, telling him in a meeting held at the Lubyanka in 1972: “Let the gullible fools believe you want to perfume your communism with a dab of Western democracy, and they will clothe you in gold”.

General Pacepa, who at the time was Ceausescu’s advisor for national security and the deputy chief of the Romanian foreign intelligence services, learned that the image of a “new Ceausescu” should be planted like opium seeds -- patiently and with care, one by one, and watered daily until they bore fruit.

“We should promise that more openness and Westernisation will be forthcoming, if only the West helps our new “moderate” Ceausescu to defeat his “hardline” opponents at home.” Andropov then finished by telling Pacepa: “I’ll lay you a million to one that the West will swallow it”.

It is almost four decades since that meeting. But replace the words "Ceausescu" with "Rouhani" and "Romania" with "Iran" and "Communism" with "Islamic Republic", and it's more or less what we have today.

President Rouhani’s track record, writings and history are ignored, and far too many are then swept away by the glossy images, the empty exteriors, and, more importantly, by this fear of the dreaded "hardliners".

Potkin Azarmehr left Iran for the UK after the “Cultural Revolution”. He is currently a contributor to several newspapers and Television stations on Iran related news and also writes and produces a number of TV programs

blog comments powered by Disqus